What If?



“What if?” is a powerful question. It’s the question I always ask myself when I need to create a storyline. No doubt, many people use it, so it’s nothing special. Further, I’m sure there are as many methods to come up with a storyline as there are stories –– innumerable. But “What If?” is the method that works for me.

“What If” is actually a simple question. Once asked, it doesn’t conjure vast alien universes locked in millennia of warfare with existence hanging in the balance — nor does it require painstaking thought or overwhelming mental gymnastics. It only requires that the question be completed.

What if … the Earth quit spinning? Storyline for an outline I’ve begun for a sci-fi book titled Clair Obscuro.

What if … bird flu jumps species? Storyline for my sci-fi book, Summit Seekers.

What if … an early Indian tribe disobeys their Great Spirit? Storyline for my Western adventure, Legend of Yankee Boy Basin.

What if … the South Platte River is dammed in 1872 Colorado Territory? Storyline for my Western adventure, Heller’s Canal.

Now, I’m not purposely plugging my stuff, but moreover showing how well “What If?” works.

In none of these stories did I labor over the storyline before I began to write. I simply completed the question “What If”, gave it a little time to organize in the back of my mind and I began. It’s a really simple technique and it works.

In other words, there is no such thing as running out of ideas for a story. When all seems lost, just ask the one simple question that will set you free. “What if?”

What if I never generate another idea for this blog?

Cut the applause, please.

“What if?” never fails.

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